Senior Designer at Illuminate Lighting Design by HBA
Notable projects: The Langham Shenzhen, The Ritz-Carlton Macau
Anni Kurniawati studied architecture, but upon writing her thesis on lighting, she realised that lighting design was her calling. Now her portfolio includes various hotel projects across the globe, from Indonesia all the way to Azerbaijan and China. Her hotel project The Ritz-Carlton Macau was awarded Best Luxury Hotel and Asia Hotel Design Awards in 2016, while her work for The Langham in Shenzhen also received multiple accolades.
How do you view the relationship between architecture, lighting and landscape?
It is a good thing that architectural lighting is best appreciated on surfaces or objects, so we collaborate closely with other design disciplines at work. In that sense, my architectural background definitely helps to communicate the lighting intent during discussions.
Tell us why you got interested in lighting design.
I fell in love with lighting design because the light in itself is intangible, but you can feel its transformative presence. Indeed, lighting could evoke a sense of emotion in a space such as mystery, drama, excitement or calmness.
How has the practice of lighting design changed since you first started working in the field?
I have been working in the lighting industry since I graduated from university back in 2003. There were only a handful of lighting design consultants in Indonesia. At that time, the profession itself was not widely known. Now, there are many lighting design consultants, from small to big firms. Clients, too, are more aware of the necessity of having lighting design consultants on board for their projects.
Please share the most significant part of the whole creative lighting design process.
At Illuminate Lighting Design, the most significant part of the creative process is the concept. We set the tone, direction and purpose of the design as early as possible. One of our completed projects is Sumire Japanese Restaurant at Grand Hyatt Jakarta. We worked very closely with the interior designer to bring a soulful expression to the interior through light.
What is special for me, though, is the synergy between the client and the interior designer. As a result, the restaurant is able to host various integrations and concealed fixtures that keep the purity of the ceiling planes. This led the restaurant to create an ideal level of ambience.
What did you find unique in the design process on each or any of your projects?
Our design process is the same for all projects regardless of the location – there is always cultural aspects to consider. For example, in China they prefer very bright public areas to welcome guests. This means we have many more lighting opportunities. I’m now working on Shimao Intercontinental Wonderland project in Shanghai, also known as the ‘cliff’ hotel. The context is unusual because the hotel is built in a cliff, so I had to also light up the cliff façade in a way that won’t disturb the hotel guests in the evening.
Every project is unique, we need to study the concept and drawings from architect, interior designer and landscape concept before we can do lighting design. This can be said about The Crescent Development in Baku we’re working on, which is going to house one of the world’s few seven-star hotels amongst other very interesting spaces.
What is your view on the demand for lighting designers in Indonesia, compared to Singapore and China?
The market is growing here but not without its challenge. I remember there were times when I was asked if electrical contractors or suppliers could do what I do. A question like this shows we need to continue educating people about the appreciation and understanding of lighting design. As designers, we are interested in the lit effect and integration with the interior or architecture. When designing architectural lighting, we are not only illuminating the room to meet the functional requirements, but also add soul, rhythm and imagination to the space.
You previously mentored students in Indonesia. What advice would you give to a young designer?
Passion is important. I didn’t start with lighting background, my background was in architecture but I had the interest. So, I read up on lighting and educated myself about the basic principles and the fixtures. My favourite projects for young designers are residential lighting, because a house can comprise many areas, such as exterior façade, landscape, interior living room, bedroom, bathroom, and more. Learning the nuances and differences between these areas in the project would be beneficial as the same principle could be applied to more diverse and complex project, like a hotel. It also helps to train young designers to build relationship with clients and respect what they want.